Bishop gets job done

Michael Bishop signals to the bench during the first half of action between the Argos and Blue...

Michael Bishop signals to the bench during the first half of action between the Argos and Blue Bombers. (Dave Abel / Sun Media)

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:41 AM ET

TORONTO -- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are 1-0 in the restart.

They made a significant move last Sunday when they brought quarterback Michael Bishop out of semi-retirement to replace the struggling Stefan LeFors, and the bottom line is he improved his career record to 21-15-1 with a triumph in his first start with the Blue and Gold.

Yes, it may have been the defence that allowed the Blue and Gold to beat the Argos 13-12 yesterday at alcohol-free Rogers Centre, but Bishop committed only one turnover and did well overall considering the circumstances.

"Right now, if our defence can continue to keep us in the games, I'm sure we'll see Michael improve with each week as he gets more familiar with what we're doing with our receiving corps," head coach Mike Kelly said. "If we can put this whole thing all together, obviously we think we can be competitive with anyone."

The 33-year-old Bishop had had four practices with the Bombers and three indoor games since his last CFL game, with the Saskatchewan Roughriders last November.

Yesterday he completed 16 of 30 attempts for 213 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He struggled in the second half, when his lack of football action got to him.

"It was every bit a lack of football," Bishop said. "The first quarter, coming out, my legs felt good. We moved the ball. I got a touchdown. After that, for some reason, the monkey jumped on my back. My hips got sore. My hamstrings got tight.

"But that's a matter of me going back this week and doing extra conditioning."

Bishop gave Bombers fans renewed reason to believe in the first quarter, throwing for 99 yards -- or 33 more than the Bomber pivots generated in last week's 19-5 loss to the Argos. His best drive was the team's second of the day, when he hit Terrence Edwards with three passes longer than 20 yards -- or two more than they had in the first four games this season.

Bishop capped the 89-yard march with a 22-yard touchdown strike to Edwards, who finished with seven catches for 110 yards. Edwards had 134 yards coming into the game, and he became the first Winnipeg pass catcher to have a 100-yard outing this season.

"We played hard," Edwards said. "We didn't put up the points we wanted, but a win is a win. We'll go back to the drawing board next week and get better. (Bishop) had four days of practice and came out with a win. That's encouraging."

Kelly said Bishop started out with about 82 plays at his disposal (they have 115 in the playbook), but the coaches threw out about 30 of them as the game progressed.

"Michael was knocking the rust off as we went along, and he started to lose his legs there a little bit, and those were all things that you kind of anticipated," Kelly said. "He improvised a little bit, but he did a nice job today of staying within most of our structure, and when things did break down he showed what kind of an athlete he can be."

Perhaps most importantly, Bishop showed his hard-working colleagues on defence that the offence might be able to help them out once in a while. That didn't happen much in the first four weeks.

"We saw what they were capable of doing in the first quarter," defensive tackle Doug Brown said. "We schemed well, and the guy's got a rifle. If we align him right and put him in the right direction, he's going to turn out to be a good quarterback for us.

"It's signs of encouragement that we're starting to turn it around right now."

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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